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Decision on fire service cuts delayed – again

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A DECISION about proposed cuts to Frome’s fire service has been delayed again until the new year.

A meeting to discuss the cuts, which was scheduled for 18th December, had already been postponed from October due to the high number of responses to the 12-week public consultation.

Now Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service say that a meeting will be held in ‘early 2020’ to discuss the plans, which could see Frome’s current service of two fire engines crewed by on-call firefighters 24-hours a day, reduced to one engine crewed 24-hours a day, and the second engine crewed only at night.

The proposal has been widely criticised by the  community with a campaign launched by Frome’s on-call firefighters, receiving backing from Frome Town Council and local residents. Firefighters have warned that the cuts could put lives, properties and firefighter safety at risk.

Expressing his personal opinion, crew manager at Frome Fire Station, Jason Collier told Frome Times, “Obviously it’s uncertain times for Frome, directly with the possible loss of the second appliance during the day and also indirectly to see what resources are going to be cut nearby that would be supporting pumps to Frome. 

“The only good that I can take from this is that with the delay, hopefully, there will be a delay in implementing and the people of Devon and Somerset will be safer for a little longer than if these cuts came in earlier.”  

The proposed cuts to Frome’s fire station is one of many changes put forward by DSFRS. Other changes proposed include the closure of several ‘low risk/low activity’ stations, the removal of all third engines, and removal of some second engines. 

A spokesperson for DSFRS said, “A meeting for fire authority members to consider options to change the way the service operates has been moved to the new year.  

“Members of staff and trade union representatives had raised concerns about the impact the decision may have on staff if made just before Christmas.

“In addition, a General Election has been called since the date for the fire authority meeting was set. The service would not have chosen a date for the meeting in such close proximity to an election. It is important that members are available to give full consideration to the results of the consultation prior to making any decision.

“Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue consulted over the summer on proposals to modernise the service. The proposals include station closures, reducing the number of fire appliances and changing crewing arrangements. These changes would enable the service to reinvest in prevention and protection work to reduce the risk of incidents occurring.

“During the 12-week consultation, the service received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions, and five petitions.

“Service officers will now work with colleagues in the constituent authorities to agree a suitable date for this meeting.”

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